Hol­ly­wood’s cul­ture of death

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Hol­ly­wood is slowly de­stroy­ing Amer­ica — as is ev­i­denced by the re­make of “Fri­day the 13th.” It is the No. 1 gross­ing movie, rak­ing in over $42.2 mil­lion last week­end alone.

The film has no co­her­ent plot or real sus­pense — just un­bri­dled vi­o­lence, gore and nu­dity. The en­tire movie is a run­ning blood­bath, with teenagers be­ing mas­sa­cred by the movie’s arch-vil­lain Ja­son in the most heinous ways imag­in­able: axes through the head, bodies burned to a crisp over camp­fires, eyes gouged out and throats slit.

More­over, its por­trayal of teenage sex­u­al­ity is graphic, vul­gar and ob­scene. Women are por­trayed as sluts and sex­ual ob­jects. Top­less women are butchered. There are nu­mer­ous scenes glam­or­iz­ing teenage sex and drug use. One male char­ac­ter sports a Tshirt em­bla­zoned with: “F*** Christ­mas.”

Through­out the film, the hu­man body is sys­tem­at­i­cally de­graded for the au­di­ence’s en­ter­tain­ment. This is not mass art, but a form of pornog­ra­phy — a pornog­ra­phy that is per­vad­ing our cul­ture, slowly erod­ing moral stan­dards and poi­son­ing our youth.

For decades, Hol­ly­wood has been wag­ing a war against Mid­dle Amer­ica. The coun­try’s sup­posed best films are hon­ored at the Academy Awards. Yet, be­hind the glam- our and ar­ti­fi­cial hype, the ju­ve­nile hosts and silly ob­ses­sion with the stars’ fash­ion, one need only look at this year’s top con­tenders to see the twisted val­ues be­ing ped­dled in Tin­sel­town. “Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Road” is an as­sault on sub­ur­ban fam­ily life, ra­tio­nal­iz­ing abor­tion and adul­tery. “The Wrestler” is about a pa­thetic ag­ing pro­fes­sional wrestler, who has aban­doned his wife and daugh­ter in pur­suit of fame and for­tune. He can’t hold down a reg­u­lar job and spends his time in a strip club. “Milk” cel­e­brates the life of the first openly gay politi­cian, Har­vey Milk.

The only movie that es­pouses gen­uine ro­man­tic love be­tween a man and a woman and the en­dur­ing val­ues of hero­ism, self-sac­ri­fice and fam­ily honor is “Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire.” And here’s the catch: It’s not Amer­i­can. The film is an In­dian pro­duc­tion with an In­dian cast, de­pict­ing a cou­ple’s des­per­ate strug­gle to sur­vive in the harsh slums of Mum­bai. The movie has be­come a world­wide box of­fice smash. Hol­ly­wood sees its recog­ni­tion of the film as a sign of its mul­ti­cul­tural sen­si­tiv­ity. In fact, it is writ­ing its own obituary.

The movie’s huge pop­u­lar­ity shows that Amer­ica’s de­cay­ing cul­ture is be­ing eclipsed — other coun­tries are be­com­ing bet­ter at the en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness. In­creas­ingly many peo­ple are dis­gusted by Holly- wood’s cel­e­bra­tion of vi­o­lence, promis­cu­ity, abor­tion, ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, drugs and greed.

“Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire” is not a par­tic­u­larly ex­cep­tional film. Yes, it’s well-di­rected, has some very pow­er­ful scenes and the love story is grip­ping and touch­ing. But it is the kind of film Hol­ly­wood rou­tinely pro­duced 50 or even 40 years ago: metic­u­lously crafted, an­chored in eter­nal themes and se­ri­ously writ­ten — dra­mas, such as those star­ring the likes of Bette Davis, El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor or Richard Bur­ton, which por­trayed a morally or­dered uni­verse pit­ting good ver­sus evil. To­day, such films are an oa­sis in the cul­tural desert; hence, the movie’s ap­peal.

Since the 1960s, the United States has faced an on­slaught from mil­i­tant sec­u­lar­ist forces. The most suc­cess­ful rev­o­lu­tion­ary of the 20th cen­tury was not Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin or Nazi dic­ta­tor Adolf Hitler, but Hugh Hefner. The founder of Play­boy did more than sim­ply pub­lish a pop­u­lar smut mag­a­zine. He es­tab­lished the “Play­boy phi­los­o­phy,” which cham­pi­oned the sex­ual revo­lu­tion, per­sonal lib­er­a­tion and the de­struc­tion of the nu­clear fam­ily. Its doc­trine can be boiled down to one prin­ci­ple: “If it feels good, do it.” This in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic he­do­nism not only dom­i­nates Hol­ly­wood. It dom­i­nates our so­ci­ety.

Rather than ush­er­ing in a new utopia, it has un­leashed a sea of mis­ery. Our cul­ture has be­come coars­ened, cheap­en­ing the value and dig­nity of hu­man life. Le­gal­ized abor­tion has led to the mur­der of nearly 50 mil­lion un­born ba­bies. Sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases, such as AIDS, have re­sulted in the deaths of mil­lions. Di­vorce has sky-rock­eted. The fam­ily has bro­ken down. Pornog­ra­phy is ubiq­ui­tous, es­pe­cially on the In­ter­net. Out-of-wed­lock births and teenage il­le­git­i­macy rates have soared. Drugs and gang vi­o­lence plague our in­ner cities — and are spread­ing into our sub­urbs.

More ado­les­cents are en­gag­ing in sex with one an­other and with adults. Pe­dophilia is grow­ing. Gay civil unions are sup­ported by a ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans. At­ti­tudes to­ward polygamy are soft­en­ing. Ho­mo­sex­u­als, bi­sex­u­als and the “trans­gen­der com­mu­nity” are part of the main­stream. Per­mis­sive­ness and per­ver­sion are now ram­pant.

Tra­di­tional Amer­ica is dy­ing. Whether Hol­ly­wood is a pri­mary cause or a symp­tom is ir­rel­e­vant. The fact is that the dys­func­tional world it re­flects on the big screen is in­creas­ingly a so­cial re­al­ity.

This is our face to the world. Amer­ica’s big­gest ex­port is not food, cars, weapons or com­put­ers, but its cul­ture — es­pe­cially, its pop­u­lar cul­ture as em­bod­ied in Hol­ly­wood films. Peo­ple in Dubai, Is­lam­abad and Bei­jing know Amer­ica pri- mar­ily through movies. And the pic­ture is not a pretty one. The fa­mous Rus­sian dis­si­dent writer, Alexan­der Solzhen­it­syn, rightly called it “cul­tural ma­nure.”

The Hol­ly­wood elite doesn’t un­der­stand that, more than our im­mense wealth and power, our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or our re­fusal to cozy up with dic­ta­tors in Cuba and Iran, the great­est source of global an­tiAmer­i­can ha­tred is our deca­dent pop­u­lar cul­ture.

The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of peo­ple in the world - whether it be the Mid­dle East, Africa, Latin Amer­ica, Asia or East­ern Europe — are tra­di­tion­al­ist. They deeply be­lieve in God and fam­ily, hearth and home. They un­der­stand the tran­scen­den­tal na­ture of man: Hu­man be­ings are cre­ated to serve a higher, no­bler pur­pose, one rooted in eter­nal moral laws. Amer­ica’s MTV moral­ity is not only su­per­fi­cial and pro­foundly anti-hu­man, but doomed. It can­not sus­tain or in­spire a civ­i­liza­tion of any mean­ing­ful con­se­quence.

Like the mur­der­ous Ja­son, how­ever, Hol­ly­wood’s cul­ture of death con­tin­ues to de­vour ev­ery­thing in its path. It may still sell tick­ets. But, like Ja­son, it is con­sumed by dark­ness.

Jef­frey T. Kuh­ner is a colum­nist at The Wash­ing­ton Times and pres­i­dent of the Ed­mund Burke In­sti­tute, a Wash­ing­ton pol­icy in­sti­tute.

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